HairLines: Back to the Middle


After taking a bit of time away from blogging I realized that it has been a bit too long since I wrote something, well anything.  After sitting around and recognizing that I needed to get on the motivation train, I realized that the best way to do it would be by writing a short little something on this blog that I have grown to love so so much.  I love the the stories (thank you guest bloggers and blogmate).  I love the idea of the sharing.  And I love the opportunity to reflect on my life journey in an open forum.

Today while sitting in my office I thought about my adventures in dealing with my hair.  I thought about all of the experiences that have been facilitated by my hair.  I even thought about the friendships that have been forged all through my hair story.  I remember a particular time when I was totally obsessed with the idea of having tiny locs that would seem like “real hair” that could be styled and everything just like I saw in the magazines.  Well this was in the early 90’s, im guessing before “sisterlocs” were common around my parts, and way before I recognized the impact my hair would have on my life.  I guess you could call that phase 1.

Phase 2

After recognizing that having these tiny locs would not work for me or really align with the hair “principles” that my mother was slowing teaching me about, I realized that it would be better for me to slowly grow my braids into locs that I could love.  So it began.  Sometime in 1994 I decided that I would not be taking my individual braids out of my hair and that I would join my mother and sister in having locs.  And so begins phase 3.


Phase 3

As a self-professed “tom boy” I realized that doing my hair was not for me.  I would simply get dressed in the morning and go to school or practice with my head full of “wild locs” just any ol’ way.  I would sometimes attempt to do Nubian Knots with my mothers help.  When I took them down they formed a curly “cute” mass on the top of my head that I would sometimes get compliments on.  I never really did much more than this besides putting them back in a pony tail (well when they got long enough for that – it went from many little pom poms t0 three pom poms to two pom poms and then finally THE PONY TAIL).  This pony tail became my signature throughout most of my early adulthood until I moved into Phase 4.

Phase 4

The thought of entering college was quite fun for me.  Although I had no idea what it would mean in terms of my hair.  Well I became known as the girl with the locs that hung our with all the white people.  Now this wouldn’t really matter to me but it was significant.  Many of the people at my new school didn’t know what to think of me.  I had a head full of wild African hair but seemed to hang out with tons of people who didn’t “fit.”  My hair was usually pulled back in some sort of pony tail and it never really did much.  Until one day…when I put it into Nubian Knots and took it down.  All you could see were curls, wonderful little curls all over my head.  It was this day that I recognized I was cute.  It’s funny cause it never really dawned on me to think

hey people will find me attractive if I do my hair this way or that

It wasnt until I entered the cafeteria and no one noticed me.  Not my team mates, my boyfriend or any of the other friends or people who usually saw me around campus.  This new attention from what others perceived as pretty tamed locs was fascinating.  And so began phase 5.

Phase 5

I believe that phase 5 can be thought of as my vain years.  I began spending time into taming, maintaining, curling, twisting and primping my locs.  This control lead me to recognize that the only time I would sometimes feel pretty or well-kept was when my locs were “done.”  It’s funny cause I really saw my hair as an extension of my beauty and without it being maintained in a way that people could understand, I felt invisible.  People complimented me and said things like

hey you know when I first saw your locs I didn’t know what was going on but now that they are done I think they are really pretty and I think I may want locs myself.

I would say “thank you” and really be excited.  But looking back on that I think something else.  I think really?  You only liked my hair when it was in control, primed, pretty, twisted and teased and in control.  This lasted for a long time until I noticed that my hair was not dealing with the stress of all this CONTROL.  And so we enter phase 6

Phase 6

This occurred not too long ago and I decided that I would not DO anything to my hair.  I would do the bare minimum to avoid the stress and begin accepting myself in the way that I used to.  Whether I had an afro in the front and locs in the back, I decided to just let my hair hang or if I just didn’t twist it where you could see each individual loc.  I was going to accept me for me.  The first couple days I heard comments like

hey ogonnaya are you really going to where your hair like that


I think its time for you to do your hair.  When is your sister coming back?


ogonnaya are you really thinking about going to an interview like that

At this point in time I realized two things.  It was really time for me to accept me for me.  I had to deprogram myself from the programming I had done.  Some may say that it was part of my growth into womanhood.  Some may say that it was part of the acceptance of locs into the mainstream and that they then became co-opted in a certain way and under a certain style.  Or others may say that I was simply trying to look more professional.  Whatever it was, I recognized that it was time for me to embrace me and go back to the Ogonnaya that was carefree and loved her locs for whatever they needed to be.  And so we reenter Phase 1.

Phase 1 again AKA Phase 7

This is where it all comes back to where I started.  As I walked down the street today with my hair in free-flowing twist.  I realized that I was comfortable in who I was.  I felt pretty and my confidence was radiating.  I had finally taken back the power that I had as an ignorant semi self conscious adolescent.  I HAD COME  BACK TO THE MIDDLE.


Peace B. Still,



~ by travelling womanists on March 2, 2011.

5 Responses to “HairLines: Back to the Middle”

  1. Interesting post. You are coming to the middle and I am thinking of just getting rid of my hair! The itch is here and maybe this time, I will actually go and get my hair cut and not just take a scissor to my head!

  2. It’s funny, reading your story reminded me of my own. I spent most of my life in braids and it is only recently that I have started to wear my hair out of braids. I never thought my hair was pretty enough to wear outside of braids. When I did, I would get comments like, I like your hair better in braids, or your hair is thin, maybe you should get a weave.
    I think my sister is the one who inspired me to accept my hair. We were talking about hair and all the stigma that comes with it, and she said off-handedly, this is my hair, it’s what I was born with and I like it. That simple comment inspired me to accept my own hair and to like it. Now I love my hair and I take care of it.
    Thanks for your story ogonnaya 🙂

  3. Good piece, made me reflect on my own hair experiences from relaxers, dry curls, wet curls, braids, blonde/red/orange afros… Now I just want my hair in it’s purely natural state with health, shine and strength. Thanks for sharing!

    • thanks we love that everyone is sharing their stories!! The struggle to find our own power and love for ourselves and our hair is difficult even in the most supportive environments!!

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